Dreamy, creamy stovetop rice pudding. This is the best.
This creamy stovetop rice pudding recipe is, quite simply, the best. Naturally-creamy arborio rice combines with milk, vanilla, and crème fraîche for a sweet, decadent result. No eggs necessary.
All About This Extra-Creamy Rice Pudding Recipe
Rice pudding is a dessert I tend to forget about for a long time, and then suddenly crave. Rice pudding may not exactly scream “modern! glamour! excitement!” This stovetop rice pudding recipe does, however, make a timeless, creamy, perfect dessert.
Adapted from one of the country’s all-time greatest pastry chefs, Claudia Fleming, this stovetop rice pudding recipe triples the creaminess by using the starchy arborio rice, milk, and a simple, “secret” ingredient at the end.
Cinnamon and orange-steeped raisins add even more flavor.
This Is a No-Egg Rice Pudding Recipe. Here’s Why.
One thing you won’t see in this rice pudding recipe? Eggs. Many rice pudding recipes call for eggs. Eggs are a common ingredient in custards. Eggs act as a thickener and binder.
But this recipe calls for no eggs, and is thick enough without them. This is because the arborio rice, with its natural starch, acts as thickener enough. The crème fraîche also helps thicken the rice pudding even more.
Arborio Rice for the Creamiest Rice Pudding
Rice pudding is pretty flexible when it comes to choosing a rice. Many recipes call for fragrant jasmine or plain white rice. Fewer call for arborio rice — but should. Here’s why.
Arborio rice is a short grain rice. Short grain rice produces more starch than long-grain rice. More starch means a sticky, creamy texture. Long grain rice varieties, such as basmati, have less starch. The individual grains will separate even when cooked, so those make a drier, fluffy rice.
Most commonly associated with risotto, starchy arborio rice creates a creamy texture all on its own, without any dairy. That’s why using arborio makes creamy rice pudding even creamier.
Milk and the creamy arborio rice together create a doubly creamy rice pudding. But this recipe goes for the trifecta: a triple cream. Fold in a dollop of crème fraîche or sour cream at the end. (Trust me.) The crème fraîche adds another layer of creamy texture, as well as a subtle flavor that cuts just enough into the sweetness to add a bit more dimension.
Crème Fraîche vs. Sour Cream
This recipe calls for the addition of crème fraîche at the end. Crème fraîche is thickened, cultured cream with a slightly soured flavor and high fat content. Sour cream is an easy 1:1 substitute for crème fraîche.
Sour cream tastes slightly more tangy and has a lower fat content, but the effect will be similar in the final product. Serious Eats did a deep-dive into the differences between the sour cream and crème fraîche, for further reading.
A Special Add-In
Such a creamy, special rice pudding needs special raisins to match. Plain raisins, a common rice pudding mix-in, are good. But golden raisins steeped in cinnamon, orange juice, and Grand Marnier are better.
If you don’t have Grand Marnier, Cointreau or even orange juice makes a good substitute, or leave it out altogether. The subtle orange and cinnamon flavor will be enough to enhance the custard.
Stovetop Creamy Rice Pudding: Recipe Notes
- You can easily source arborio rice for this pudding recipe at any major supermarket, grocery, Italian store, or online
- Stir the rice pudding frequently while cooking. Stirring helps release the starch, and ensures that the rice on the bottom does not brown.
- Stir 3/4 of the raisins into the arborio rice pudding, and reserve the rest to garnish, along with a bit of orange zest
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Creamy Stovetop Arborio Rice Pudding
For the Rice Pudding
- 5 cups milk (not skim)
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup arborio rice
- 3/4 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
For the Steeped Golden Raisins
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or fresh orange juice
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- zest from 1/2 orange
- enough cold water to cover the raisins fully
For the Rice Pudding
- In a large saucepan, bring the milk, sugar, and vanilla to a boil. Add the rice. Stir, and boil for one minute.
- Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook for 45 to 50 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened and creamy.
- Pour the rice pudding into a bowl and stir until cooled to room temperature. PRO TIP: Speed the cooling process by putting the bowl over an ice bath. Even setting it over a bag of frozen vegetables will help speed things along.
For the Raisins and to Finish
- While the rice pudding is cooking, zest an orange, if desired, and set aside to garnish. Heat the raisins, Grand Marnier or juice, cinnamon, and enough water to cover the raisins in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then immediately remove from heat. Steep for about 15 minutes. Drain.
- Whip the crème fraîche or sour cream to fluffy, soft peaks. Gently fold into the rice pudding, along with 3/4 of the raisins. Chill until cool.
- Spoon the rice pudding into serving bowls. Top with a few more raisins and, if desired, a small sprinkle of cinnamon and some orange zest.This rice pudding will keep, refrigerated, for up to two days. Rice pudding tastes best very cool, but not cold.